I was six years old when I first saw The Nightmare Before Christmas, probably too young to not be terrified by the whole ordeal. I still remember the moment when Mr. Boogie came apart, spilling his intestine-like worms all over the ground. Back then, I screamed until my parents turned it off.
I love that film now, I think it's delightful, but the image still haunts my inner child. There's something about claymation, there's a grotesqueness to it that's perfect for #Horror. Which is why it's perfect that Little Nightmares is coming, to plunge us back into our childhood terrors.
'Silent Hill' Meets 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' In 'Little Nightmares'
The premise for #LittleNightmares is fairly simple. You are a little girl named Six (wonder if she's related to Eleven), you've been kidnapped and taken to a place called the maw, and it's time to escape.
The details of the story are where things get interesting though. See, the maw isn't any old place, it's a nightmarish underwater resort that caters to the whims of the rich and powerful. In the maw, nothing's quite right, everything is just slightly out of scale and unsettling. Servants of the elite stalk the halls and rooms, just itching to put an end to an adventurous little pest like you. The world is twisted in ways that recall the psychological horror of the titular town of #SilentHill.
As the developers put it:
The Maw arrives every year. Always at the same time, but never in the same place, it creeps and crawls and buries its claws deep beneath the glistening water. And there it sits in vast silence. Waiting.
Soon after, they start to arrive. The guests. The monstrous, sweating, hungry guests. All seams bursting, bodies bulging, eyes dead with boredom. They shuffle up the gangway and into the mouth of The Maw. And then they are no more.
For none of those that enter have ever returned to tell the tale. At least, not yet…
Hide And Seek (And Sometimes Run For Your Life)
To escape the maw, you'll have to put your wits and #platformer skills to the test. Six is armed with nothing but her yellow raincoat and an old lighter, and every room holds traps, obstacles and puzzles to impede your progress and end your life. Horrifying enemies are always right around the corner. Enemies like the twin chefs, a pair of sweaty masses of flesh that cook for the elite of the maw, or the janitor, a creepy, long-armed man who's itching to get his long fingers on you.
Each area poses its own unique challenges, from making disturbingly anonymous cuts of meat into sausage so you can swing over to a vent, to distracting an enemy long enough to sneak past him without getting turned into the new stuffing for a fish. It's a gameplay style reminiscent of the breakout hit INSIDE, but with a whole new dimension to explore.
Feast Your Eyes, Or They'll Feast On Them
Since P.T. took horror gaming by storm, we've seen a lot of #VideoGames mimic its photo-realistic style, trying to scare us with the visual fidelity of real life. Little Nightmares sets itself apart from the flock with a totally different take on terror. Instead of shiny surfaces and carefully rendered motion capture, Little Nightmares looks like old-school claymation, or a children's book drawn by an especially disturbed mind.
It's a beautiful and utterly creepy aesthetic, a graphical style that's always on the brink of being cute, before reminding you just how disturbing the world around you really is. Every moment is lit for mood, and supplemented by an unsettling soundtrack of music box tinkling and awful squelching sound effects. The heavy breathing of the twin chefs may be the most viscerally disturbing sound effect since the wheezing of the re-generators in Resident Evil 4.
While there's currently no demo out, developer Tarsier and publisher Bandai-Namco have released a delightful choose your own adventure style game on the web. Which gives you a first look into how the game will look in motion.
Little Nightmares is scheduled for release April 28, 2017.
Are you excited for Little Nightmares? Enjoy the choose your own adventure? Want to hear more about upcoming horror games? Let us know in the comments!